Abortion Services Will Be Long Subject To Cynical Political Strategies That Could Further Reduce Abortion Access

By Donald A. Collins | 5 September 2021
Church and State

The US state of Texas has enacted the strictest anti-abortion law in the country, banning all abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. (Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

A very wide percent of Americans disagree with the attacks on Roe v Wade, which would suggest that many are against the new Texas Abortion Law and its likely adoption by states the GOP controls. You can read the attitudes of US citizenry here:

These unwarranted attacks will likely make for really bad political publicity as the midterm elections approach. The law’s sponsoring Texas Neanderthals and their ideological bigots in the Senate will certainly not be voting for Nancy Pelosi’s Women’s Health Protection Act. See the story here.

Can’t you just hear the shifty back-room anti-abortion planning going on now?

The only way Roe could have come under fire was the election of the most dangerous President in my lifetime. His long-covered immorality in the media should shock the antiabortion hypocrites, but apparently does not. In my long experience in helping women obtain safe abortions, Catholic women will frequently get an abortion for themselves or for their daughters but still vote to keep others in danger, even helping picket outside abortion clinics.

Of course, a safe abortion is far safer than having a baby or even aborting a later term fetus.

This is of course why most abortions are done in the first trimester, but the 6 week limit imposed by the Texas law means most women don’t even know they are pregnant until later.

Having been present at the performance of early safe abortions done by experienced practitioners both here and abroad, I can report that the procedure is performed rapidly, safely and painlessly, removing a minuscule amount of fetal tissue which cannot be properly deemed a baby as its antiabortion zealots are fond of exclaiming!

Also as noted above, having observed the procedure done here and overseas, I can confirm that trained non-MD nurse practitioners can perform the early abortions perfectly just as well as MDs.

So undoubtedly the political furor will escalate over the Texas law the closer we get to the midterms, particularly as the hangover from Trump’s cumulative iniquities gets continuous negative press.

Thus, these midterms could seem to these deniers of prescient and simple humanity to be getting very close.

At that point, these fearsome five Supreme Court Justices, using their high level of legal and political sophistication might want to consider de-escalation of the Texas law by approving the pending Mississippi case which is another dangerous bill you can read about here.

Okay, this cynicism is not unique as this account will tell you about the girlfriend of the highly respected chief of obstetrics at Mage Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh named Tom Allen. You can read his obituary here.

His obituary in part read:

Thomas E. Allen, a towering figure, locally and nationally, in the medical field of women’s health and reproductive rights, died Saturday at his Oakland home. He was 93.

Even before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 made abortion legal, Dr. Allen was a pioneer in establishing the therapeutic abortion clinic at Magee-Womens Hospital, where women could safely end pregnancies under the care of a doctor.

I got to know Tom through my friend Dr Leonard Laufe, another strong abortion advocate, who at that time was head of OB at West Penn Hospital. He and a team of doctors had just returned from having gone to Bangladesh to provide early abortion services to young women who had been raped in that war.

Later he and I went to Iran, bringing along 2 Iranian nurses Laufe had trained to do early abortions, so they could help train MDs at their Iranian hospitals. Of course the Shah’s overthrow doubtless affected that service.

Back in Pittsburgh in the early 70’s, a group of us were working on opening a freestanding abortion clinic in downtown Pittsburgh which did open and successfully provided hundreds of women with safe, private first trimester abortions.

Dr. Laufe with Allen was involved in establishing that clinic, as the local PP chapter refused at that time to provide that service. Tom served as its Medical Director for years. You can read Laufe’s obituary here.

These 2 brave pioneer MDs really made a difference.

Allen’s girlfriend at that time was a young Catholic named Karen whose history is covered in the attached article. Her behavior shows the ambivalence of women who encounter this problem. She after 6 years with Tom knew exactly what Tom did. I was told by a person that knew her that she had commented to a colleague that early abortion was a painless minor procedure.

However, she wanted children and went on to marry a devout Catholic named Rick Santorum, later a US Senator and Presidential candidate, and have seven children.

That history was covered in a January 22, 2012 Post Gazette story (Roe’s passage in January 23, 1973) before the current attack on Roe can be read here.

I will quote part which confirms the points made earlier. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter, Sally Kalson, headlines this piece as “Karen Santorum’s past: Let it go”.

Karen Santorum’s former life recently made national news in the form of a story by Nancy Hass of The Daily Beast and Newsweek. While in her 20s, the former Karen Garver lived for six years with Tom Allen, one of the region’s pioneering abortion doctors, 40 years her senior.

This has been well-known for decades to many people in Pittsburgh, including reporters. But it never circulated in print here, probably because it was regarded more as gossip than relevant information.

Long before Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal, Dr. Allen had helped establish the “therapeutic abortion” clinic at Magee-Womens Hospital, where women could end their pregnancies under the care of a doctor instead of a hack.

“Karen was a lovely girl, very intelligent and sweet,” Dr. Allen, now 92, told Newsweek. “Karen had no problems with what I did for a living. We never really discussed it.”

Mary and Herbert Greenberg, longtime friends of Dr. Allen, said that Ms. Garver seemed perfectly comfortable with the subject of abortion, even offering to accompany Mrs. Greenberg to an abortion clinic when the latter wanted to end a pregnancy. “She told me it wasn’t that bad, that I shouldn’t be worried,” said Mrs. Greenberg. “She was very supportive.”

“Let it go” was perhaps okay then, but not now, as we ponder next steps on how restore choice to the millions of women who are affected.

Doubtless this story would prompt some conservative Catholics to cheer her resurrection from mortal sin (i.e. unmarried in a sexual relationship with an abortion provider). However, the real point of the story is that choice—as to one’s religion or whether or not to have children—should be available for every woman not impinged upon by anyone’s religious or personal ideology.

We are now in the throes of an unnecessary controversy, courtesy once again from the merciless reactions of ideologues who care nothing for women, but will do anything for political power.

We can fix this mess, but it will take courage and commitment.

Are there any such Republicans in the Senate besides Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski? Again, the cynicism and dangerous politics that have ensued and will continue needlessly for more years, should be just a humanitarian women’s health issue as it has been for nearly 50 years under Roe v Wade!

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013, Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive? and We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?.

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